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Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Geraldine enjoys the benefits of working

Palmerston North Guardian. Thursday 15 March 2007

 

This week (March 12 to 16) is schizophrenia week. One person in a hundred is affected by Schizophrenia and one of those people is Geraldine Bryant.

Geraldine is making the most of her life and seven months ago started a job which has helped her become a more happy and positive person.

Geraldine says she attended a job class for two weeks and was then put on to Workbridge where she met employment consultant Brenda McDonell.

Brenda and Geraldine discussed employment options and Geraldine said she was interested in car grooming.

Because Geraldine didn't have a driver's license this was not an option.

"So we talked about some of the things Geraldine liked about car grooming," Brenda says.

"She liked the idea of making a car clean and tidy and sparkly so we came up with the idea of motel cleaning."

Brenda then approached John and Hannie Bensch from the settlers Motel.

"We had some hesitation but we talked about it. There is a lot involved is taking employees on."

John and Hannie agreed on a three-week trail period to see if it would work for them and for Geraldine to decide if she liked it as well.

The three-week trail went well and Geraldine now spends up to 25 hours a week cleaning, making beds and washing and folding towels and linen.

"I enjoy it. In the beginning I struggled with making beds but now I'm quite quick."

She says in the beginning she had a list of notes of what she had to do.

John says Geraldine is always on time and very loyal.

"We're lucky we got a person who is loyal and we have been able to train her with the way we wanted things to be done." Hannie adds.

Geraldine says there are a lot of things for her to learn but the trio takes it one step at a time.

"We work as a team. She's not a worker for us - she's one of us, "John says.

"I've heard her says 'these people have messed up our place.' She makes it feel like her place."

Hannie says Geraldine has a certain routine that she likes to stick to.

"She does all the linen first and then starts with the cleaning."

Geraldine says her sister in law says she's more positive and happy.

"She smiles and you can see a spark." John says.

Geraldine is also pleased that she hasn't had to ask any of her brothers for loan for a while.

"I try and save as much as I can now."

Both John and Hannie say they would encourage others to take on employees like Geraldine.

"We have recommended it to friends of ours already."

Brenda says employers are eligible for a Job Support Fund subsidy to assist them to employ someone with disabilities.

"This is available to employers who take somebody on and can be used for specialised equipment or training."

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